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Mai-Mai militia

The Mai-Mai militia is an active community based militia group operating particularly in North and South Kivu provinces of the DRC, fighting many of the other militias and particular the Rwanda based FDLR. They include tribal leaders, warlords and village leaders and thus cover a range of smaller guerilla and militia groups in the region, some formed to fight off invading militia groups, others active also in the looting and in char- coal production. Their numbers have been estimated at around 20,000–30,000 militia troops. They have generally been most active in the region north of Goma in North Kivu, but also around Walungu, Bunyakiri, Uvira, Mwenaga, Fizi and Shabun- da, but their actvities, like that of most militias guerillas, varies across the regions. The Mai-Mai have generally fought all other militias and military present, including MONUC. Some Mai- Mai groups have, like all the other militias, been involved in both charcoal production, poaching and killing of park rangers and gorillas, including in Virunga in the early 2000’s.

FDLR

The FDLR or Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda is represented mainly by Hutus after the Rwanda genocide, and have been operating in both North and South Kivu. They have, like the other militias, also been actively involved in atrocities and looting, including minerals, poaching and char- coal. Both the FADRC and the Rwandan military have fought against the FDLR. Their number shave been estimated at 6,000–15,000 militias.

The rangers confiscated truckloads of charcoal, some of it directly originating from park forests. The smugglers, from both FDLR and CNDP at various times, responded by issuing a warning that they would target gorillas if the rangers interfered with the char- coal business, Around July 22, 2007, militia hunted down the twelve-member Rugendo gorilla family and killed three female gorillas – Mburanumwe, Neza, and Safari, with Safari’s infant hiding nearby. Also Senkwekwe, a 250 kg silverback, was shot. One of the females had been shot in the back of the head; and the infant was found still clinging to the dead mother. A total of ten habituated gorillas were shot in direct repercussion for the work of the rangers in hindering illegal logging and smuggling

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in the park in 2007. Images of the dead gorillas were shown in news media worldwide and caused an outcry – not least because of the betrayal of trust involved in slaying gorillas who had come to regard human visitors as benign.

The DRC government has made genuine efforts and had some progress in 2009 in terms of organisation of summits of the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC) and the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC), and the normalized relations with Belgium and Rwanda. Of major importance in early 2009 was the arrest of Laurent Nkunda and the attempts to destabilize the Hutu

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